Over the past 13 years, the South End of Stamford, Conn., a 322-acre peninsula on Long Island Sound, has gained more than 4,000 new rental apartments, most in fancy high-rises. Part of a master-planned, mixed-use development called Harbor Point, the apartments have helped inject new energy into an area formerly pocked with decaying industrial sites and brownfields.
Aakash Patel, 27, moved from his 400-square-foot studio in Manhattan into a one-bedroom apartment in Harbor Point’s newest apartment building, Opus, last September. Mr. Patel, the vice president of a venture capital firm, said he’d searched for a larger apartment in New York, but ultimately decided it wasn’t worth the price since he was working from home several days a week.
“I also saw that many of my friends who were previously in the city weren’t moving back,” he said. “It became apparent there wasn’t as much of a social or professional edge for me to be in Manhattan proper.”
Mr. Patel pays about $4,200 a month for a corner unit overlooking the Sound. While that’s not cheap, he said, similar views and amenities, including a concierge and spa, were unattainable at that price in Manhattan. “Stamford felt like a nice first move, given its proximity to the city and with Harbor Point feeling quite lively given the concentration of commuters,” he said.
Par Shakiban, 78, chose Harbor Point as a convenient place to downsize from his house in Bedford, N.Y. He already had a deep connection to the South End, having run an Italian restaurant, Eclisse, there for 26 years until its closure in 2016. He still runs European-style cafes, called Patisserie Salzburg, in Rye, N.Y., and New Canaan, Conn., as well as his newest location at Harbor Point.
The Holy Name of Jesus church, on Washington Boulevard, was founded in 1903 by a group of Polish immigrants. Credit…Jane Beiles for The New York Times
He and his partner have lived in their two-bedroom apartment at the Beacon for about four years. Harbor Point is definitely just a “stopover” for some renters, but “we have many people who make Harbor Point their home,” Mr. Shakiban said. “It’s a great area to live in, and the accommodations are first class.”
But the ongoing transformation of the South End by the developer Building and Land Technology has also rankled some longtime residents who live in the modest multifamily homes around Harbor Point. Years of seemingly nonstop construction — with the attending dust and noise — and the emergence of one luxury high-rise after another feels like a takeover to some.
Building and Land has done the bulk of development in the area, including construction or redevelopment of 14 apartment buildings and more than two million square feet of office space. Another 180-unit apartment building is under construction.
“It’s not the same neighborhood feeling that it was when I first came here,” said Marlene Rhome, who owns a two-family house and has lived in the South End for 43 years. “Don’t get me wrong — it’s good that they did some development. It was acres and acres that was bare. But it’s gotten to the point now where it’s just ridiculous.”
She and some other residents are trying to win city approval of a local historic district commission to protect what historic structures are left in the area.
What You’ll Find
Directly below Interstate 95 and the Stamford train station, the South End is a jumble of repurposed factory buildings, bodegas, early 20th-century multifamily homes, new apartment towers, small restaurants and pocket parks. Formerly cut off from the rest of Stamford, the neighborhood now is better connected to downtown, where development has been moving south even as construction in the South End has moved north, said Ted Ferrarone, co-president of Building and Land Technology.
The development boom has expanded the population significantly over the past decade, to an estimated 7,500. Corporations are moving in as well — Charter Communications, the provider of Spectrum internet and cable services, recently opened a new headquarters on Washington Boulevard near the train station.
A glass-and-brick building on the peninsula’s eastern shore is another newcomer. Called The Village, the 133,000-square-foot waterfront building is anchored by Wheelhouse, a media, marketing and investment business platform founded by the entrepreneur Brent Montgomery in 2018. A full-service restaurant operates on the ground floor, and Nantucket’s Cisco Brewers operates a beer garden during the summer months.
Rob Lia, the president and general counsel at Wheelhouse, said the company is counting on the building’s industrial-feel interiors and amenities to attract some of the local talent that currently goes into New York.
Among the South End’s newer small businesses is Third Place, a renovated factory space on Pacific Street that provides space for people to work and drink coffee, gather over craft beers or hold private events. The owners of Half Full Brewery, in Stamford’s Waterside section, came up with the concept, partly as a way of helping to build a sense of community, said Conor Horrigan, the brewery’s founder.
What You’ll Pay
Rents in Harbor Point average $1,974 for a studio; $2,568 for a one-bedroom; $3,699 for a two-bedroom; $5,905 for a three-bedroom; and $27,500 for a four-bedroom penthouse, according to information provided by Building and Land Technology.
The inventory of multifamily homes and condos is very limited — none were on the market as of early January. The median sale price for the six multifamily properties that sold over the past two years was $522,500, according to data provided by Aida Pedroza, an agent with William Pitt Sotheby’s. Four condos sold last year, with a median price of $341,875.
A 23-unit condominium now under construction on Washington Boulevard will provide homeownership opportunities for households at or below 50 percent of the area median income. (For a four-member household, the income limit is $75,900.) The project incorporates the restoration of a historic, three-family Victorian farmhouse. Sixteen units are already reserved, at prices ranging from $240,000 to $310,000, said Joan Carty, chief executive of the Housing Development Fund, the nonprofit developer.
Because most of Harbor Point’s buildings are pet-friendly, dogs are nearly as plentiful as people on the sidewalks and waterfront boardwalk. Commons Park, in the middle of Harbor Point, has a dog park, playground and coffee kiosk.
The waterfront bustles with boaters, programmed events and water taxi service in the summertime. The Ponus Yacht Club has a clubhouse for dining and a waterfront deck.
At the base of the peninsula, Kosciuszko Park has a looped walking trail, ball fields and a playground.
Harbor Point can “feel like a bit of a bubble sometimes,” as the areas around it “have been given less love,” Mr. Patel said.
Students in the South End attend Springfield Elementary, for kindergarten through fifth grade; Dolan Middle for sixth through eighth grades, and Stamford High School. SAT scores for the class of 2018-19 (the latest data available from the state) averaged 492 in evidence-based reading and writing, and 484 in math, compared with state averages of 514 and 500.
The Academy of Information Technology and Engineering is an inter-district magnet high school in Stamford. Admission is based on an application and lottery system.
The independent Waterside School enrolls about 150 students in prekindergarten through fifth grade. Enrollment is limited to lower-income students, and tuition is covered through private donations, said David Olson, the school’s executive director. The acceptance rate is about 20 percent, and roughly 80 percent of current students are from Stamford.
“We work hard to be strong neighbors to the community,” Mr. Olson said. “Every day when school lets out, the neighborhood kids come over to use our soccer field. We are trying to share our resources.”
The ride to Grand Central Terminal on Metro-North’s New Haven line takes about an hour from the Stamford station. A round-trip ticket is $23 to $30.50, depending on the time of day, and a monthly pass is $335.
Driving to Midtown Manhattan on Interstate 95 takes one to two hours, depending on traffic.
In 1892, Stamford resident George Blickensderfer received a patent for his design of a typewriter that was much more portable than the bulky machines of the era. His factory in the South End went on to become one of the largest typewriter manufacturers in the United States, according to ConnecticutHistory.org. In 2020, Building Land and Technology took down part of the vacant factory, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is currently working on a redevelopment plan.
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